President Duterte on political dynasties: “Pare-pareho man ta”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 08 November) –  President Rodrigo Duterte ended up talking about political dynasties at the inauguration of the Siargao Island Sports and Tourism Complex in Dapa, Siargao Island on Saturday after acknowledging his partymates Governor Francisco Matugas, his wife and son. “Puro Matugas na man ni tanan” (They’re all Matugas), he said.

“No offense intended, kapareho-pareho man ta” (we’re the same), the President said, although he added that Matugas has more members of his family in public office, compared to his  “tulo lang” (only three), referring to his three children Sara, Paolo and Sebastian who hold elective positions as well.

Duterte noted that proposed laws prohibiting political dynasties will never be passed by a Congress dominated by dynasties, adding that political dynasties have become the “political practice” and are here to stay.

Political dynasties, he stressed, are “not bad.”

“Unless you change the whole picture, unless you change the Constitution, unless you change the culture, puwede pa siguro. Pero og ani lang gihapon (But if we remain like this), we will have dynasties. And dynasties are not bad,” the President said.

resident Rodrigo Roa Duterte attends the inauguration of the Siargao Island Sports and Tourism Complex at Brgy. Osmeña, Dapa Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte on November 6, 2021. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

For Duterte, dynasties pose a problem when the family controlling an area monopolizes businesses, kills their rivals and in some cases, mayors engage in the illegal drugs trade.

The 1987 Constitution provides under Section 26 of Article 2 (Declaration of Principles and State Policies), that the state “shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

Thirty four years later, however, the dynasty-dominated Congress has yet to pass a law implementing this provision.

“Pareho man ta”

Duterte’s take on political dynasties was triggered when he acknowledged the officials present. “Puro Matugas man ni tanan” (they’re all Matugas), he remarked,  after naming  Surigao del Norte Governor Francisco Matugas; his wife Sol, a former governor and representative, now Provincial Administrator; and their son Francisco Jose Matugas III who is 1st district Representative of Surigao del Norte. (see other story)

Later, he also mentioned the names of Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas, Jr., whose father, the former mayor, is incumbent vice mayor.  Francisco and Ernesto are siblings, along with Elizabeth, who is mayor of Dapa town in Siargao and Proserfina, mayor of Del Carmen town.

Duterte said dynasties have become part of the “political practice” in the country.

He cited people’s clamor for his family to run to continue his programs.

He recalled that after completing three terms as mayor, he summoned the barangay officials and said “mamili na ta og muilis sa ako” (let us choose my replacement).

“You know, even sa — ang lider sa among grupo, Hugpong, unanimous gyud si Inday. Unya sa congressman, ang mga barangay captain kadaghanan gusto pud si Pulong. Ug naa pu’y usang vice mayor, ang nagbuot ana noon pud ang iyang igsuon, ang magulang, si Inday” (You know, among the leaders in our group, Hugpong (sa Tawong Lungsod), they were unanimous for Inday. And for Congressman, many wanted Pulong. And for Vice Mayor,  that was decided upon by his sister, Inday (Sara Duterte).”

Duterte was apparently referring to the end of his second nine-year term as mayor because after his first three terms from 1988 to 1998, his vice mayor from 1995 to 1998, Benjamin de Guzman, ran for and won as mayor while he served as 1st district Representative from 1998 to 2001.

His daughter Sara would enter politics in 2007.

In the 2001 elections, Duterte ran against incumbent mayor de Guzman and won, got reelected in 2004 and in 2007, fielded his daughter Sara as his Vice Mayor and as he was term-limited in 2010, ran for that second highest post with Sara as mayor. The patriarch returned as mayor in 2013 although spent most of his time outside Davao City beginning late 2014 for his listening tours on federalism, in preparation for his 2016 Presidential bid.

Duterte said he told the people to choose someone else because he is old but they told him “there is another Duterte.”

Duterte’s three  children with Elizabeth Zimmerman – Paolo, Sara and Sebastian are all in politics.

Sara is seeking reelection as mayor of Davao City. She was elected mayor in 2010, took a break from politics in 2013, returned in 2016, was reelected in 2019 and is seeking reelection in the May 2022 polls.

Paolo is seeking reelection as 1st district representative. He served as Vice Mayor to his father from 2013 to 2016 and to sister Sara from 2016 but resigned Christmas of 2017.

Sebastian entered politics in 2019 as Vice Mayor to sister Sara, and is certain of a second term in 2022 as he is running unopposed. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)